REPEAL OF OCS DRILLING BAN PICKING UP SUPPORT Members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation have long called for lifting the ban on offshore exploration in the U.S.’s Outer Continental Shelf, particularly the nearby eastern Gulf of Mexico, but now that a presidential candidate and top federal agency have joined the push, the issue is gaining new momentum. There are actually two bans on offshore drilling along the U.S.’s east and west coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico — a 1981 congressional moratorium and a 1990 executive ban signed by the first President Bush. The United States is the only country that has closed more than 80 percent of its OCS to drilling, and outdated estimates — last assessed in the late 1980s — assume there may be 18 billion barrels of untapped oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off of U.S. coastlines.
Though Louisiana is not included in the ban, industry officials argue that the state has the infrastructure in place to support the activity and bring the oil and gas online to help alleviate rising fuel costs.
A month ago President Bush asked Congress to open up the area to drilling, and on Monday removed the executive prohibition (both bans must be lifted for any new activity to take place). Generations of Louisiana lawmakers, such as U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Napoleonville Democrat who represents portions of southern Acadiana, have filed legislation to lift the statutory ban, but have been unable to make any headway — until now. “He still supports [lifting the ban] and is hopeful,” says Robin Winchell, Melancon’s press secretary.
For his part, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, a Lafayette Republican who represents the rest of Acadiana, sent a letter to Bush Thursday, July 10, asking him to take action immediately to help lower the price of gas, if for nothing else. “The President was right to call on Congress to lift the congressional OCS exploration ban, but he must lift the executive ban now,” Boustany said in his letter. “Increasing American supplies of oil will help decrease the price at the pump squeezing families in southwest Louisiana. The President can eliminate his ban on exploration now, and Congress should follow his lead.”
In many ways, Boustany is following the lead of his party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has advocated increased OCS energy production to both lower prices at the pump and increase U.S. supply. When it comes to environmental concerns, McCain has said he would not support drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or other sensitive areas.
The official energy plan of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the Democrat Party’s assumed presidential nominee, does little to address the expansion of OCS drilling. Obama’s campaign planks focus instead on reducing oil consumption, retooling fuel-economy standards and creating new tax breaks.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service, the federal body that oversees federal oil-and-gas leases, has also called for a lifting of the bans with some limitations. MMS Director Randall Luthi, speaking to reporters last week on a conference call, said the new OCS areas would yield fuel for up to 15 years, during which time the country should focus more resources on alternative energy sources.
One of the more viable measures floating around Congress to lift the OCS ban is sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and 43 other House Republicans, including Boustany. Murphy also co-signed the letter to the president penned by Boustany. Winchell said Melancon was not asked to take part in this particular push by Republicans, but he does support the intent.
VIDRINE ANNOUNCES 7TH DISTRICT CANDIDACY U.S. Constitution Party candidate Peter Vidrine launched his run for the 7th Congressional District seat last week at City Hall in Eunice. The Eunice native and owner of the technical services company Sirius Technologies is making his second bid for Congress. Because the U.S. Constitution Party isn’t recognized by the state, Vidrine’s name will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot without a party listed. Vidrine first ran as a Republican in 1996 in an eight-candidate field, garnering just over 5,000 votes. He has since switched over to the Constitution Party, and is promoting a moratorium on immigration, closing the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, withdrawing from the World Trade Organization and the United Nations and cutting off aid to foreign countries.
Vidrine was an early supporter of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul in the Republican presidential primary is working to build on the grassroots network that Paul established in the state.
LANDRIEU AND KENNEDY’S SECOND QUARTER HAUL Friends of Mary Landrieu announced last week that the incumbent Democratic senator raised more than $1.5 million during the second quarter of 2008 — what her re-election campaign committee claims is a state record for any U.S. senator seeking re-election.
“Sen. Landrieu’s strong fund raising shows that her support is widespread and crosses party lines,” Landrieu campaign manager Jay Howser says. “Republicans, independents and Democrats from Shreveport to Lake Charles, from Monroe to Grand Isle and everywhere in between know that Sen. Landrieu fights and wins for Louisiana.”
Landrieu’s campaign has more than $5.4 million in the bank, doubling the cash on hand of her opponent, state Treasurer John Kennedy. The Kennedy campaign countered by announcing that it bested Landrieu’s $1.5 million by raising $1.51 million in the second quarter. “We also set fund-raising records by raising the most amount of money of any Senate challenger,” says Lenny Alcivar, Kennedy’s communications director.
DEVELOPER ENTERS, THEN BAILS ON NEW IBERIA MAYOR’S RACE Colorful businessman Chris Jordan was challenging New Iberia mayor Hilda Curry in this year’s fall election. Jordan, a developer, told The Daily Iberian that he can bring rapid economic growth to the city. Known as a freewheeling entrepreneur, Jordan’s corporation, Vermilion Holdings, owns several New Iberia downtown landmarks including the Gouggenheim and Lagniappe buildings, and an impressive camp at Cypremort Point. Jordan’s frequently been vocal about property owner’s rights, often publicly challenging the city’s regulations. But only a day after articulating his intention to run, Jordan pulled the plug on his candidacy. “Unfortunately, I have other obligations in place, which I cannot abandon at this time,” he said. “I will do everything possible to assist the current mayor in helping New Iberia achieve a higher level of success for which we can all be proud.”
Contributors: Jeremy Alford, Nathan Stubbs, Leslie Turk and Mary Tutwiler
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 16, 2014:
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.
The Appropriations Committee held public testimony day, letting people talk about what they like or don't like about Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget recommendations for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1.
Lafayette police are investigating the death of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found early Sunday in a drainage ditch in Girard Park.
Former Grant parish District Attorney Ed Tarpley says he's running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Vance McAllister of Swartz.
Louisiana-Lafayette got strong starting pitching and timely hitting to hold off Arkansas-Little Rock 6-3 in Sun Belt Conference baseball in Lafayette, La.
Chris Williams knows how to pilfer from the public coffers, this time with a back-pay lawsuit filed three years ago against the Lafayette Housing Authority, which netted the former city-parish councilman a cool five figures.
McAllister's office vowed that he intended to stay in office — for now. As for questions about whether he would stand for re-election in November, those were dodged.
The Green Army's Lafayette brigade has announced it will pay a visit Friday morning to Sen. Page Cortez to urge him to vote against Sen. Robert Adley's SB 553, which the group is calling the "Big Oil Bailout Bill of 2014."
For the sixth consecutive year, Andy Nyman, LSU associate professor of wetland wildlife management, and his service-learning students plan to spend spring break differently from those students flooding the beaches of Florida.
When a BP oil well began gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, fisherman George Barisich used his boat to help clean up the millions of gallons that spewed in what would become the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
The legislation — House Bill 503 by state Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport — passed by an 8-5 vote and advances next to the full House.
The Republican Party of Louisiana has had enough with the philandering hypocrite Vance McAllister. David Vitter? Eh...